5 Simple Steps to a Positive New Habit (Part II)
Updated: Jul 13
“Good habits are the key to all success” -Og Mandino
Welcome to Part II of this 3 Part Series on Habits!
In this post, you’ll get a complete strategy for creating new and desirable habits!!
Think: listening to your body around eating and hunger, meditating, adding movement in, connecting with others more consistently and getting outside everyday.
Stay tuned for Part III where we’ll cover strategies to alter current habits that don’t suit us so well! You know the ones…. snoozing your morning alarm 5 times, that nightly wine habit, or using social media as a way to escape your real life.
PS ~ If you haven’t already, check out The Secret to Understanding Your Habits (Part I) for an important overview of habits, their formation, and the role they play in our lives.
We all have those habits that we try (and try, and try….) to add into our lives, but they just don’t seem to stick:
Go to the gym everyday at 6 am
Do yoga 3x/week
Drink 96,000 oz of water each day
Read a book a week
Eat a nutritious breakfast every morning
Wake up an hour (or two!) earlier so you can get a jump on the day
Learn to speak fluent French
Make healthy home cooked meals every night - that the whole family will enjoy ;)
Start the day with a 20 minute meditation
These may seem like great goals, (I’ve tried many of them myself), the problem is, they’re too… BIG.
They’re too much of a jump from what we're already doing.
The old way of forcing change by creating huge goals and then relying on motivation and self-discipline to get there, just doesn’t work. And when we inevitably ‘fail’, we beat ourselves up and lay on added guilt and shame for good measure.
Try a different way. A way that encompasses awareness and simple mindset shifts.
“When you know better, do better” - Maya Angelou
Let's start together.
Step 1: What New Habit do you Want in Your Life?
This is the fun part!
What do you want? Really want.
How do you want to feel, be, act, show up?
Not how others want you to be, how do you want you to be....
A version of you that feels comfortable in her skin, moves everyday, is cultivating an open and accepting relationship with food, a compassionate sense of body image, and deep, honest personal and interpersonal connections.
Yeah, that you ✌🏼
Are there changes you might make towards that end? What do they look like?
>> Grab a pen and paper. Set a timer for 5 minutes and write out any thoughts that come up. Don’t worry if they’re realistic, or if your friends or family will ‘approve’, or if they seem silly or ridiculous, just write.
Putting pen to paper, giving yourself space to write, and then ‘seeing’ your thoughts from a different perspective is so powerful.
Then choose one single change to start with.
Not 3 or 4 things because “I need a complete overhaul”, just choose one. Slow and steady. You can build from there.
Step 2: Start Small
Once you have the change you want to make, identify one small, consistent step you can take toward this version of you.
Are we all of a sudden going to pop out of bed at 5:30 am with a smile on our face as we head to the gym before we start the day?
Of course not.
Especially not when we currently scroll social media until 1 am, and then drag ourselves out of bed with 3 cups of strong black coffee.
We might start with a lot of gusto, but we can’t keep it up because it’s sooo different from what we’re used to, so we quickly lose momentum and ultimately forget we ever wanted to do that weekly kickboxing class, or the hour long daily meditation practice.
We need to start small. Like really small.
>> Instead of meditating for 20 minutes, try it for 1 minute. Once you establish that habit for a month, bump it up to two.
>> Instead of waking up 90 minutes earlier, try 2 minutes. Then add another two min on from there.
>> Instead of yoga 3 x/week, do a 2 min stretch in bed each morning.
Create a solid foundation and build from there.
We think, “What’s that going to do for me”??
The answer? Everything.
Because you’re much more likely to keep it up. And once it’s established, it’s so much easier to add to it than to create it from nothing.
“A habit must be established before it can be improved” - James Clear
Step 3: Make it Easy & Obvious
This is one of James Clear’s tips from his hugely popular, bestselling book, Atomic Habits; make new habits easy and obvious.
>> Want to start journaling? Keep your journal (or a reminder) out where you’ll see it and importantly be able to easily write in it. Bedside table, at your desk, a sticky note on your computer. Easy and obvious ☑️
>> Want to eat more fruits and vegetables? Take a cue from supermarket psychology and put the foods you want to eat where you’re most likely to see them. Keep cut up fruits and veggies at eye level in the fridge. Keep bananas on the kitchen counter, water with lemon in a pretty pitcher.
>> Want to read more? Keep an interesting book by your bedside table, or download the kindle app to your phone (1st page so you see it regularly!) and read when you have free time instead of scrolling social media and looking at random pics from 2014.
Bonus! Try Habit Stacking:
Adding a desired behavior to something you already consistently do. It’s a powerful tool to effect lasting change, take advantage of it!
Time, location, and your surrounding environment are great cues for new habits:
I will put on sunscreen as soon as I get out of the shower.
I will spend 2 minutes decluttering some area (drawer, cabinet…) of my house each day while my coffee is brewing.
I will sketch after I eat lunch
Before I sit down at night to watch tv, I will grab my knitting materials
Make it as easy as possible to do the thing you want to do.
Step 4: Commit
Isn't it interesting how we always keep commitments to friends, family, and coworkers. We wouldn’t tell a friend we’ll meet her at 7 am for a walk, or tell the kids you’ll be there at 3 to pick them up from school, and then…. just not show up.
Of course not!
Though we do it to ourselves All. The. Time.
Why are we so easy to go back on the commitments we make to ourselves?
No more flip flopping. No more excuses.
Not, “It would be nice if ______”, or “I’m going to try to ______”
This wishy-washy attitude teaches your brain, teaches you, that commitments to yourself are unimportant, they are negotiable.
You need a firm, clear, concise commitment: “I am 100% committed to ______”.
Practice following through.
Teach your brain that THIS is how you handle the commitments you make to yourself. You are true to your word.
Teach yourself that you can do this.
Decisions are a big deal. You honor them.
You take responsibility for your life.
You can rely on YOU.
Step 5: Repetition, Repetition, Repetition!
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times” - Bruce Lee
If habits are behaviors that are repeated regularly (and eventually occur automatically), then the more we repeat the action, the more it will stick and the better we will get at it.
This is of course true of both desirable and undesirable behaviors....
Repeat the desired action as many times as possible - at least every day, and ideally multiple times per day.
Try affirmations, put positive thoughts or encouraging words on a sticky note where you will see them often, practice the action repeatedly throughout the day.
Repetition is a powerful tool for habit change, don’t underestimate it.
> > > BONUS!! Track It < < <
Mark off each day/time you complete the new, desired routine.
It is an effective visual reminder of your progress and gives you that quick hit of satisfaction & pride (another one of Clear’s ways to make habits stick!)
Print the 5 Simple Steps to a New Positive Habit Planner for an easy, all in one place to create and track your new positive habits!
Use this simple 5 Step Formula to begin adding new desired habits and behaviors into your life - you'll be surprised at what you can accomplish when you approach it from a place of awareness and consistency, rather than hoping for motivation and willpower to carry you through.
Remember, we start small on purpose and build a solid foundation that we can add on to. Commit to making the change.
Repeat the desired behaviors as many times as possible throughout the day - and track them!
You got this 🙌🏼
What are you working on adding to your life? Comment below :)
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